Bhutia: Merdeka debacle will not dent confidence
Steel City quintet eyes the grand finals
Ghavri set to coach Bengal
Lone goal win for E. Coalfields
Track Trials/ Allysum catches attention

Calcutta, June 28: 
The Merdeka Cup disappointment will not undo the goods achieved in the World Cup qualifiers, feels Bhaichung Bhutia.

Among other gains from the pre-World Cup campaign, he noted, was the revival of interest in Indian football — among the public and the media — which can’t disappear in a mere 20 days.

“People in India started talking football. The interest came back. All this can’t end after one bad run,” Bhutia, who leaves for England Monday to resume his stint with second division club Bury FC, said at a Meet the Press organised by the Calcutta Sports Journalists’ Club (CSJC) today.

Listing the gains from the pre-World Cup matches, the Indian skipper said the most significant point has been the belief that superior opponents can be toppled if the team is willing to fight for 90 minutes.

“What matters most is how you play, not how many points you collect. We did very well in the tour of England last year and this time we realised we were not feeling inferior — as was the case in the past — while playing away matches.

“I think that’s the biggest plus — the positive attitude. As captain I feel sad after the Merdeka Cup but don’t think we’ve lost that mentality. We have to maintain this attitude,” he said.

Bhutia informed he is not certain to play for the country when the team tours England in end-July and in the Afro-Asian Games in October. “The All India Football Federation (AIFF) must take the initiative and speak to my club for my release,” he said.

Regarding activities of the AIFF, Bhutia was cautious to remark but said: “If things are not going well, somebody must be responsible. There are a few problems which they (AIFF) should be able to explain better but the game has to be managed and marketed properly.”

He welcomed the idea of having former players in administration but felt it was easier said than done. “A former player must have the right credentials to perform as an administrator.”

Bhutia, hugely impressed by the players’ association in England, advocated the formation of soemthing similar in India but admitted choosing the right men would be a difficult job.

Such an association, he argued, will be useful in sorting out problems arising out of bonds between clubs and sponsors — like the pact of not taking each others’ players between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan following instructions from common sponsor UB Group.

“The players’ view should also be considered and one can’t be forced to stay with a club if he is not willing.”

Bhutia, yet to decide whether he will terminate his stay in England after his three-year contract expires at the end of this season, said Indian football should not blindly follow other countries in order to develop its football.

“There is nothing wrong with a foreign coach but he should be good enough.

Recruiting a foreign coach just because he comes from another country doesn’t make sense. I think sending Indian coaches for a six-month stint abroad isn’t a bad idea.”

He also felt India’s strategy should be based on the kind of players available and the team should not merely imitate systems adapted by other countries.

Bury FC’s pre-season training begins Wednesday and the league starts in August. Before leaving India, Bhutia will play for Mohun Bagan in a charity match in Durgapur Sunday.

CSJC help for Dorji

The CSJC today handed over a cheque for Rs 5,000 to Bhutia in aid of ailing former international Pem Dorji.


Jamshedpur, June 28: 
Seven days ago, 250 boys and girls from 35 schools across six districts of Jharkhand and Bihar took to the battlefield in quest for the ultimate glory.

After many an engrossing duel at the J.R.D. Tata Sports Complex, the king and his men were identified in the second edition of The Telegraph Schools’ Chess Championship’s Jamshedpur leg.

Though the champion school remained unchanged — South Eastern Railway Mixed English Medium HS of Chakradharpur retaining the best school trophy — the crown changed heads. Prince-in-waiting Pratik Sengupta, runner-up of last year’s event here, was coronated king this time.

Organised by Tata Steel and Alekhine Chess Club the championship, conducted in association with Horlicks, saw a 25 per cent increase in the number of entries. No wonder then that even among the top five there was one debutant in this championship.

The dust has settled over the Steel City leg. The focus of the successful quintet will now be on the grand finals in Calcutta for which they have earned a passport.

Following are profiles of the top five finishers:

PRATIK SENGUPTA: The top seed of the tournament with a Fide rating of 2118, this 14-year-old student of the SER Mixed English Medium school was in top form. There was no stopping Pratik as he brushed aside all challenge, erasing memories of last year’s runner-up finish. The older of two brothers, Pratik took to the game at the age of six. Brother Deep, who was his inspiration, went on to win the under-12 world championship last year. “Initially, I was coached by Amit Medda but now I am honing my game playing against a computer at home,” Pratik told The Telegraph.

ABHISHEK DAS: Coached by his father since 1998, Abhishek is currently taking lessons at the Tata Chess Centre. His performance graph has soared in the last 12 months, as Abhishek climbed from No. 6 spot at last year’s meet to runner-up this year. “I was runner-up in the under-14 category of the state championship also. I am looking forward to an even better performance in the Calcutta finals,” said the Bharat Sevashram Sangh School student.

ROHAN VIJAY SHANDILYA: A virtual veteran at The Telegraph Schools’ Chess Championship — this was his fifth appearance — Rohan slipped from top place to No. 3 this year. “There is a new time control method that is being followed now which made things difficult for me,” said the 15-year-old SR High School student from Munger. Rohan has a Fide rating of 2090.

PRIYA RATNAM: In her debut at the championship, this Brij Kishore Kindergarten School student from Chapra distinguished herself by becoming the only girl to qualify for the Calcutta finals. And, believe it or not, Priya has had no formal training in chess. “I haven’t had a coach till now. The basics were taught to me by my maternal uncle and thereafter, I have been fine-tunning my game by reading the AICF magazine,” she said. Priya took to the game in 1996 and has already won the age-group title of the Bihar state championship four times.

NITESH KEJRIWAL: Perseverance has paid off for this 15-year-old student of SE Railway Mixed English Medium School, Chakradharpur. “I have been playing chess chess for the past three-four years but hadn’t achieved anything significant. At last year’s championship, I couldn’t get any position. I am glad I managed to overcome my earlier setbacks and clinch the fifth spot,” he said.


Calcutta, June 28: 
Karsan Ghavri will be the Bengal coach for the forthcoming Ranji season. The former India allrounder will take charge from end of July.

“I haven’t signed the contract yet, but it has been verbally agreed upon after a discussion with Jagmohan Dalmiya today,” Ghavri told The Telegraph this evening from his Mumbai residence.

As per the agreement, Ghavri’s term will initially be for one year. As Ghavri himself acknowledged, the renewal of his contract will obviously depend on the team’s performance.

A formal confirmation from the CAB was awaited since Dalmiya was unavailable for comment.

A keen golfer these days, Ghavri’s most significant achievement as coach was in the 1993-94 season when Mumbai won the Ranji Trophy defeating Bengal in the final under Ravi Shastri’s leadership. The feat was even more creditable since Ghavri had to guide a bunch of youngsters while the ‘stars’ were busy doing national duty.

“My primary aim will be to get to know the boys individually,” Ghavri said, adding that he had followed Bengal’s Ranji performance during the last couple of seasons. “I am aware a lot of youngsters are in the side and I intend spending a lot of time with them during the first couple of months.”

The CAB has already decided on participation in the Buchi Babu and Moin-ud Dowlah meets, and Ghavri feels that will help him immensely. “Those matches will help me get a first-hand knowledge of the side. The players and I will both benefit from the exposure,” he concluded.


Calcutta, June 28: 
Eastern Coalfields, West Bengal Police and Kalighat Club all posted 1-0 victories in first division group A of the Calcutta Football League today.

At Rabindra Sarobar, Lakshman Ghosh hit Eastern Coalfields’ winner against Wari, while Nanigopal Ghosh took West Bengal Police past Howrah Union at Mohun Bagan ground. Sandip Karmakar did the needful for Kalighat against Kidderpore at East Bengal.

Rs 10,000 for Mitra

The CAB has sanctioned Rs 10,000 for former Ranji Trophy player Pulin Mitra. Mitra, in financial distress these days, had requested for that amount, said a CAB official today.

The CAB also received a request for financial help from former umpire J.D. Ghosh. The appeal has been forwarded to the BCCI, said the Cab official.

Meanwhile, Arindam Das has been picked for the best under-19 player award for the previous season. Ajay Garai (under-16) and Shamik Mukherjee (under-14) were the others selected for awards in those age groups.

School regatta

Lake View HS beat Khalsa High in a close race and also outpaced St Thomas to reach the junior boys’ final in the Servo-Indian Oil national school regatta at Lake Club today.

They will take on Cathedral Mission for the title Saturday.

In other races, South Point beat Khalsa High in the senior boys’ section but lost to National HS which denied them a ticket to the final.

Chetla Boys beat Kalidhan Insitution and St James to set up a title clash with National HS.

The junior girls’ final pits Deshabandhu Balika Vidyalay against Modern High, while Calcutta Girls face Mahadevi Birla for the senior girls’ crown.

RACES FOR BRONZE: Boys — Senior: St James vs South Point. Junior: Khalsa High vs St James. Girls — Senior: GD Birla vs South Point. Junior: Mahadevi Birla vs Calcutta Girls.


Calcutta, June 28: 
Allysum, Annalee, Actress and Magnifico Bold were impressive in today’s workouts.

Outer sand track

1,200m: Aherlow (A.P. Singh) and Albright (Surender) in 1-37s; (400m) 27s. Former easily a length better.

1,000m: Allysum (Brij S.) and Treasurer (Rb) in 1-12s; (400m) 28s. Former was a length better. Annalee (A. P. Singh) and Actress (Surender) in 1-11s; (400m) 27s. Former was a length better. Aldebro (Rb) in 1-19s; (400m) 26s. Good. Magnifico (Sur-ender) and Crucible (A. P. Singh) in 1-13s; (400m) 26s. Former was 2 ls better. Both were urged. Anoloni (Rb) in 1-17s; (400m) 27s. Fit. Alsheim (A. P. Singh) and Andrada (Surender) in 1-14s; (400m) 27s. Former 2 ls better. Both were stretched out. Master Bold (Brij S.), Automatic (Surender) and Calamint (A. P. Singh) in 1-13s; (400m) 27s. They were separated by heads. Arendal (A. P. Singh) and Annella (Surender) in 1-12s; (400m) 26s. Former was a length better. Alegria (A. P. Singh) in 1-14s; (400m) 28s. Was handy.

800m: Auctioneer (Rb) in 1-0s; (600m) 44s; (400m) 26s. Easy.

Monsoon track

800m: Sovereign Bullet (Tamang) in 55s; (400m) 26s. Fit. Scarlet Raider (Tamang) in 55s; (400m) 25s. Fit. Alumnus (Yasin) in 1-1s; (400m) 25s. Handy. Secret Adversary (B. Gurang) and Lively Project (Yasin) in 54s; (400m) 23s. Both were level. Adeline (B. Gurang) in 57s; (400m) 24s. Good. Heaven’s Blessing (Shanker) in 1-1s; (400m) 28s. Gold Buck (Shanker) in 1-0s; (400m) 27s.

600m: Grecian Prince (B. Gurang) and Rich dominion (Rb) in 49s; (400m) 28s.

Sand track

1,400m: Solo Act (Engineer) in 1-56s; (400m) 31s.

800m: Almond Rock (B. Gurang) in 1-3s; (400m) 27s.

600m: Crimson King (B. Gurang) 47s; (400m) 28s.

400m: Double Bull (Yasin) in 28s. Ballet Master (Kujur) in 28s. Stately    


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